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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Seances of the 19th Century (8 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Intrepid
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Silver Spring, MD
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In my reading collection are the following books:
Behind the Scenes with Mediums - David P. Abbott
Mediums of the 19th Century (Vol. 1 & 2) by Podmore
Spirit Slate Writing and Kindred Phenomenon - William E. Robinson
The Spirit World Unmasked - Henry Ridgely Evans

All provide historic insight into the traditional practices of mediums and seances of the 19th century.

Other recommendations most welcomed.
Bob
MentalistCreationLab
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Maybe read someone writing about seances that is not a magician. A lot of what you read as regards to methodology, effect an premise is completely incorrect.The actual methods are easier and more effective than those published by the magicians attempting to recreate these methods. I give you a few examples of the bad information, Table Tipping, Levitation, Ectoplasm, Spirit Trumpet, Sitter Placement, Spirit Sounds and a whole lot more. In fact they got most of it wrong. Reading Abbott, Podmore, Robinson and Evans are right up there with the miss information provided by Houdini. Robinson was closer than most and Podmore did have some interesting thoughts that can be applied but still has a bunch of misleading information.

Once you have read the other writers who are non magicians compare that information to the information you already read from the magi and you may see odd statements emerge. When you notice these stop and take note as you're now one the right track. Look in to psychical research but only the stuff that has documented accounts. BM
Intrepid
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Good suggestion, thanks.
Bob
weepinwil
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Quote:
On Feb 19, 2018, MentalistCreationLab wrote:
Maybe read someone writing about seances that is not a magician.


Perhaps you could list some suggested titles. I, for one, am not knowledgeable enough to know the Magi from the Non-Magi, just as the average person can't tell the difference between the real embalmers and those faking it.
"Til Death us do part!" - Weepin Willie
Rik Gazelle
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Peter Lamont's book "The First Psychic" tells the fascinating story of the Victorian medium Daniel Dunglas Home. It gives a wonderful feel for the atmosphere of the times and is entertainingly told. It is slightly let down by reaching its conclusion on Home's authenticity first and then setting out the evidence to support that conclusion and down-playing the contrary, but do not let that put you off, it's a minor quibble of an otherwise worthwhile read.
Intrepid
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The volume of books published in the 19th century on Spiritualism is no short list. Google books is always a great resource for researching anything relationing to the 19th century. My sweetspot is the American civil war and its aftermath, so I filter google books to just the 19th centerury and date order sort. I now have enough reading material to last me several life times. But as Will said, recommendations are welcome so I can be sure to read those in this life time. First person descriptions of their seance experience would be ideal. And books that chronicle the evolution of spiritualism during its early days in the mid-19th century. I’ll post my findings as well as I crawl through the google universe for anyone else with an interest in this period of history.
Bob
MentalistCreationLab
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The Foundations of the seance do not exist without spiritualism. Therefor it may be of interest to read the works written by a spiritualist such as Hudson Tuttle who was born in born in Berlin Heights, Ohio in 1836 who created and made s device known as the Psychograph a early form of a dial planchette which was used for spirit communication. Then I would have a look at a work called Hydesville in History by M.E. Cadwallader published in 1917. This work can be found at some of the spiritualist camps in a reprint form. It currently distributed by National Spiritualist Assoc of Churches Lilly Dale, NY. Next we have a fascinating work called Pioneers of Modern Spiritualism which consists of 5 volumes this is the who's who bibliography and contains a lot of information in abbreviated form on early mediums. Although some of the work is slanted and not 100% factual its a good read. This work was written by Audra Cutlip, Copyright 1980.

From these introductory works one must dive down the rabbit hole to which there is no bottom and being to explore the world of Psychical Research. I will point out there is two primary schools of thought on this British and American with a third of note Canadian which may be the more important research as the experiments carried out were better documented but lesser known than its British or American counterparts. Here it is important to only look at the work conducted before World War II and not the research conducted after this time. While this latter research is interesting it will be less relevant to what we as entertainers may be looking for. As for British or American Psychical research I tend to find the American works a bit more interesting for several reasons based on what I already know about the subject. The British research is always well written but often poorly documented with supportable facts that can be further checked. However if you only want to look at this subject from the point of view of a story teller then the British works on the subject are they way to go just do not expect any good documentation. Actually out of the 3 mentioned the Canadians have the best research and most detailed documentation. When doing a comparison study pay close attention to these northern works and researchers as the document even the smallest details which are often of the most important when it comes to actual methods used but seldom seen.

Now if your just looking for secrets, methodology and approaches my Inside the seance mind series which is well over 10 hours of audio in 5 volumes is packed with usable info to transform your seance and take what you are already doing to the next level. But with this type of research and study even for casual interest plan on hours and hours of time to find out even the simplest answer to your questions. Only a few field of study related to magic and mentalism are buried under this much hedgerow. In fact I can only think of one or two fields that has this much hedgerow entangled within and only one that has even more. I been digging now for the better part of 3 decades and I am still turning up new stuff that pertains to actual methods used that have never been published by any magician or mentalist. In fact In volume 5 of inside the seance mind I proved some of the more notable magi lied and never actually attended a spiritualist seance. Yes, they outright lied and why they did is another tale altogether. Start with the above works as these are loaded with useful information for one starting out on the road dimly bathed in red light. In fact you may have trouble finding any good accounts of a real seance conducted in the complete dark. Which I sure you may find interesting as I did. Even Jonathan Koons and his son Nathan who built the first decade room for this type of work known as the spirit cabin had a single candle for light as Johnathan would write upon the table built by his son messages from the other side. By the way this Koons tale ends like a seance from Frankenstein first published a few decades earlier in 1818. Villagers, man, I tell you when they have had enough of things that go bump in the night they break out the torches.

I will say this not many have actually dug in t this aspect and found even a tenth of what I have found out. Most take the easy way out and just make stuff up when in fact the actual history is even more bizarre than all the lies told by some of the big names in magic. Beware of turns and twist in the road some of them with take you down a path that ends in the middle of nowhere. While others will take you to the information you seek so choose which path you take with great care. Just a word to the wise. And remember when in the burned over district all paths merge into one. And its even more screwed up but it does have a couple of lake monsters so its not all bad if you like that sort of thing. But the lies are rampant and everyone is seeking followers so keep your head screwed on straight and look at this crazy thing with a fact finding principles of a researcher with no bias if you can. Just a few of these tales will give you context for a seance for the next century to come and the materiel for new constructs is endless.
Paradise
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Have a look at Table rappers
by Ronald Pearsall as well
Black Hart
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My recommendation: Spirit Theatre - Eugene Burger.

Keith Hart
Black Artefacts, manufacturer and dealer of weird, bizarre and psychic magic: www.blackhart.co.uk
Intrepid
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Silver Spring, MD
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Free Google Books on Spiritualism from 1850 through 1865. Fascinating period accounts during the 1850s of the spirit rapping phenomenon. By 1865, the scene had changed quickly.

The signs of the times: comprising a hi......l (1851)

Psychomancy: Spirit-rappings and Table-t......d (1853)

The Spirit-rapper: An Autobiography (1854)

Experimental Investigation of the Spiri......e (1856)

Spiritualism as It Is: or, The Results ......D (1865)
Bob
Intrepid
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Bob
mindmagic
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You can also use https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/ for researching specific mediums and topics.

Also see here http://survivalebooks.org/ and here http://www.survivalafterdeath.info/
Intrepid
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Catching up on few things here.

Rik, the First Psychic book comes with good reviews on how well it is researched, including a reviewers appreciation of Lamont focus on chronicalling the way Homes was viewed by his contemporaries. Good suggestion. At $1.99 used, no brainer.

Padise, with the title “Table Rappers: the Victorian and the Occult” I was expecting a teen book, but no, the reviews all have high praise for how well researched and presented the book is. Good research material for sure. Order.

Mindmagic, links to free period ebooks are the bomb. Thanks
Bob
MentalistCreationLab
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Also note that when looking at the late Victorian period you may want to look at works on customs of the times and popular culture. These aspects get yanked out of context by the more recent authors who apply modern customs and culture to the subjects. This can be a problem and the best way to study these types of things is form an earlier point of view. In Eugenics for example you will find a rather detail section on how to deal with death. The only reason I mention this is at one point in the history this work did bear its influence on the spiritualist and the seance. Regardless of its properganda nature its influence can still be seen in some of the later authors who subscribed to its philosophy.
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